George Gaylord Simpson, 1956 (courtesy American Philosophical Society Library).

George Gaylord Simpson’s “Night Thoughts on Leaving the American Museum,” 1959

George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was a leader in twentieth century vertebrate palaeontology, and he contributed to making the American Museum of Natural History a powerhouse in the field. In 1959, Simpson left his job at the museum in a bitter dispute with its management. Simpson never published a rationale for his resignation, but he secretly wrote one. After his first day unemployed, Simpson penned a…

Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Penguin Classics), 1890 second edition, edited by Professor Joe Cain and Dr Sharon Messenger ISBN 9780141439440

Charles Darwin’s Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1890 second edition) (book)

He who admits, on general grounds, that the structure and habits of all animals have been gradually evolved, will look at the whole subject of Expression in a new and interesting light. (Charles Darwin) New edition, with an upgrade First published in 1872, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals was a book at the very heart of Darwin’s research interests – a…

Tiger skeleton from No Ordinary Space (History of UCL Grant Museum of Zoology (ISBN 9781906267896) | Professor Joe Cain

No Ordinary Space: UCL Grant Museum (book)

Book on UCL Grant Museum of Zoology UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology moved to The Thomas Lewis Room in UCL’s Rockefeller Building in 2011. This book answers popular historical questions about the room, the building, and the wider university and medical school environment.  The aim is to investigate basic historical questions visitors have had about the space, some of the architectural details, and the building’s…

Excerpt from photograph of conference attendees at 1947 Princeton conference organised by National Research Council's Committee on Common Problems of Genetics, Paleontology, and Systematics

Exploring the Borderlands (book)

The Society for the Study of Evolution and its journal, Evolution, have their origins in the work of a small national committee of the National Research Council. This was organised by George Gaylord Simpson and Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1942. Events of World War Two intervened such that Ernst Mayr took effective control in 1943. The Committee on Common Problems of Genetics and Paleontology (later Systematics was…

Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975) was an experimental population geneticist and Soviet émigré to the US. In 1943, he visited Professor Andre Drefus in Sao Paolo as part of a US “good neighbour” programme. In this photograph, Dobzhansky (centre) and two unnamed Brazilian colleagues are trapping Drosophila fruit flies in nearby forest. Dobzhansky was key to the synthesis period.

Descended from Darwin (book)

The synthesis period in evolutionary studies (most people call this the “evolutionary synthesis” of the 1930s and 1940) has had a standard narrative for many years, but pressure is increasing for a revision. This book, Descended from Darwin, began as a conference at the American Philosophical Society Library, Philadelphia (22–23 October 2004). The goal of the conference was to investigate how scholarship might move forward. Conference…

William Jennings Bryan arrives in Dayton, Tennessee for 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial

Last Message of William Jennings Bryan (book)

As the Scopes ‘Monkey’ Trial came to an end in July 1925, William Jennings Bryan expected to deliver the prosecution’s closing argument. Procedural tactics by the defence prevented this. The trial ended without the long-awaited climatic moment in front of the world’s media. Five days later, unexpectedly, Bryan died. In their bereavement, supporters focused on Bryan’s unspoken words as their last chance to connect with…